As a follow up to Part 1 of the post I wrote last week I wanted to explore in more depth the techniques I find most effective when trying to judge the success of any SEO campaign. Previously an increase in rankings may have been enough but is that really delivering value? Those managing SEO campaigns need to start looking at the value they are offering clients and delve deeper into the returns being generated. Google Analytics is a great place to start monitoring campaign performance but which metrics can offer you a clear insight into campaign performance? Here are my top metrics that can easily be measured in Google Analytics which provide a more valid overview of performance than ranking.
Start off by assigning goals to your site and values to your goals. How important are certain goals to your campaign? Which goals will be delivering the monetary return? Without these objectives how can you judge the impact of any marketing activates, not just SEO?
Start to monitor your organic, non-branded search terms. Is traffic simply being sourced from visitors looking for your site or are you constantly on the lookout for more competitive search terms that can deliver added value to any campaign? Over time you want to see traffic volumes increase for relevant, non-branded search terms.
Review the number of search terms that drive traffic to your site. Remember to only look at organic traffic and separate brand and non-brand terms. Over time you should start to see an increase in the number of search terms driving traffic to your site. The number of primary keywords you would like to see driving traffic to your site is completely dependent on the type of campaign you are running, but is a good indicator of performance/growth over the long term.
When asked to review the quality of traffic I am driving to a site I use one of the most underrated stats within SEO, bounce rate. This is a great way of identifying valuable search terms as well as those that are hindering performance. As well as keyword performance, bounce rate also helps identify incorrect or problem landing pages. A high bounce rate on a well-targeted search term that is highly relevant to your site indicates there is an issue with the landing page.
One of the most useful stats to view is conversions. If you can track a high percentage of conversions back to a single search term then you already know the type of term that is offering real value for money. To track long tail terms, which are difficult to view individually, try monitoring conversions from organic, non-branded terms as a whole.
Finally, if you simply can’t get away from internal departments wanting to measure success by rankings, Google Webmaster Tools offer a great set of tools that will help you to understand where keywords are ranking and how they impact your site.
Whilst businesses and SEO campaigns will always generate different goals and measures of success, the above should offer some insight into the variety of metrics that can be used. It is always important to have a focus and clearly defined goals. However, understanding how your SEO activities are contributing to the overall success of a campaign will place you in an advantageous position when making critical decisions on how best to meet your goals.